Horror game ideas & inspiration

As I’m progressing in level designing and blueprint , I’m planning to make a horror game. It should be a game which shouldn’t just be full of jumbscares, more like a game which atmosphere should frighten the player. I’ve found a really good ‘demo’ on YouTube to get some inspiration on how my game should be. Link: Stake Lane Hotel - An Unreal Engine 4 Horror Game - YouTube

What do you think a good horror game should include ? What’s the most important ? Which functions/ features should it have ?

Give me some examples and suggestions:)

Thank you in advance

I think that’s probably something that you would ultimately have to figure out for yourself. I’m also currently writing a horror game, so I don’t want to just flat out give out all of my ideas (which is why I say you may have to figure it out on your own). But what I can say is this. Horror games lately to me aren’t that fun to play (at least, AAA). They either have too many jump scares where the other 90% of the game isn’t scary at all, or they just aren’t that fun to play.

*In creating your game, think of what type of game you want your audience to play. Is it a survival game? Is it a checkpoint-to-checkpoint game (such as Left 4 Dead)? Base defense / scavenge for supplies kind of game? Left 4 Dead had no jumpscares really from what I remember, but that game is extremely scary to play solo and also with other people when you start falling behind / getting left behind. The feeling of being “in the back” defenseless is scary especially when you start hearing growls.

*As far as the “Most Important,” that’s up to you to decide but one thing is that giving the player too much power, too much ammo, or making mechanics such as 1-hit sneak attacks too readily-available will break immersion, because that right there will allow the player to feel too powerful; and if they feel too powerful, they won’t be scared. The player needs to fear for their live in one way or another, at many points throughout the game.

You’d have to decide if you want your game to focus on a story, focus on figuring out why something is haunted, or whatever you want your game to be about and then think about what you’d want you yourself, and your players to experience. Also, something I noticed when playing Evil Within (a good game in my opinion) is that spawns of the enemies were never static. Sometimes they would be there when I reloaded, and sometimes they wouldn’t be and will have spawned somewhere else. That was extremely frightening for me because the thought of “Ok, I know what’s behind this door” causes me to feel safe because I can prepare for it; but the moment they’re not actually behind that door and are somewhere else, I no longer am able to prepare myself to be safe and it creates fear.

There was a thread recently on the topic of “jumpscares”, where SaviorNT (you’ll be able to find his post if you scroll down) mentioned Hitchcock and provided a snippet of an interview, in which he discussed suspense. You can find it here.

I think that’d be a fantastic starting point, when it comes researching and developing a horror game. Go back and re-immerse yourself in some of the classics. There’s something that modern horrors do, that older horror movies - and especially Hitchcock’s work - didn’t. They throw all of the “scary” stuff at the audience at once - or at least, within a short duration. Whilst this does, admittedly, scare people. It only does so for a moment. Once it’s happened it’s happened. There’s no long-term effect. What a decent horror should do is build the suspense over time.

Let’s take a modern example like Paranormal Activity, for example. Though I’ll admit I may have been caught by the occasional “jumpscare” in the films, once it happened, that was it. After seeing the movie, I’ve almost entirely forgotten everything about it - literally. Yet, there’s a reason people remember the classics. They build up the scare factor, tension and terror throughout the course of the movie, before finally bring it to fruition. I can remember so many horror films from my childhood that kept with this format. I believe that’s part of the reason I remember them so vividly till this day. And even now, if I rewatch them, I still get the chills.

In all honesty, i don’t like horror games and have been hard pressed to find one that freaked me out back in the days like Resident Evil 1, Silent Hill, Amnesia and Fatal Frame. I prefer story driven games over jump-scares. I guess if your really creative, creating a game that actually has a great, long story and a super creepy factor would be the way to go. Lots of mind-F**k puzzles would be cool too. A real huge open world horror game would be sick. I have never seen one of those yet. Most horror games today are localized to a specific area and/or are linear in every way.

That’s my vision for a good game. Not jumpscares. It’s the atmosphere that countd

Don’t neglect a little research into “existential horror”: Soma review – existential horror that stops short of genius | Games | The Guardian

I think what most unsettled me about Silent Hill(s) and other greats is that aspect of “what is actually real?” and, more precisely, “am I who/what I think I am, or is this all some grand illusion I can’t possibly comprehend?” For example this scene in Silent Hill 3 where it’s suggested that perhaps you are the only monster:


Another particularly haunting example of the “what is actually real?” question is The Nightmare Box from the short story of the same name from Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted – here’s an html version from Google Cache (but I highly recommend the whole book): “The Nightmare Box”. I won’t ruin it with a synopsis but you can Google it easily enough…

Good luck, looking forward to it!

Thank you all for your great answers ! Really appreciate it

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